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Durham graduate launches networking platform for researchers

A Durham University graduate has launched a free online networking site in response to academic needs and growing levels of poor mental health among PhD students.

Scientistt bridges the gap between business-focused networking platforms like LinkedIn and the very different needs of academics and researchers.

Current academic-focused platforms cater for publication sharing, but do not provide the networking tools and community spirit that is in demand.

Scientistt is targeted towards academic researchers and students, allowing them to easily ‘meet’, collaborate, access research, take part in virtual networking events, develop skills, join special interest groups and contribute to blogs and journals.

It also aims to tackle feelings of isolation that can often be experienced by academic researchers.

Scientistt’s founder, Hassan Mahmudul, said: “Researchers tend to have just three sources of information about work in their chosen field: published literature, conferences and their supervisor.

“I know first-hand how easy it is to become focused on the specifics of your own work and lose sight of the bigger picture – meaning you could be missing out on collaborative opportunities or multi-disciplinary approaches.

“Networking is an essential part of the research process to generate new ideas and prevent duplication of effort.

“Some of the brightest minds are working to solve the world’s biggest problems – yet they are often doing this in isolation.

“Research is a lonely profession and the current restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic have intensified the need for connection and collaboration within the research community to maintain good mental health.

“We know that many research students see a decline in their mental wellbeing and today this is more challenging than ever.”

Recent research by UC Berkeley found that more than one third of graduate students reported moderate to severe depression, while more than 40 per cent reported anxiety – far higher than the national average.

Hassan added: “The site isn’t just academic papers and debates, it’s about opening up a professional network that is supportive in terms of lifestyle and wellness as well as academic development and progress.”

Following a soft launch in March, Scientistt already boasts over 1200 members from around the world, including over 40 UK universities.

Now, with support from Durham City Incubator and Northstar Ventures, Hassan and his team of graduate colleagues intend to grow Scientistt significantly, bringing the world’s fledgling and established research communities into one place for support, growth and innovation.